Archive for the ‘If You Don’t Know…’ Category

If You Don’t Know… Jose` James

Little Bird

If you don’t know Jose` James… download his music right away, grab your favorite drink, dim the lights and allow his silky baritone to transport your mind.  His vocal styling will gently touch you, almost like a tickle then envelope you in crescendo leaving you wondering, how did we get here?

Even if this moment is the first time you’re hearing James, you may think, “He sounds so familiar.”  When I listen to this Minneapolis born singer, sometimes he sounds a bit like Michael Franks, then it’s more Oscar Brown Jr. or maybe it’s Gil-Scott Heron with a touch of Johnny Hartman.  Although he may remind you of some of your favorite classic vocalists, he undoubtedly blends it all into something very intimate and new.

James was born into music; his Dad was a saxophonist and had the ability to play multiple instruments.  This may explain why James’ voice flows and reaches like a Jazz horn.

His tune, “Desire” from the “Dreamer” album is featured in my “Believe” mix.  I suggest you immediately download the full “Dreamer” album, it’s a compilation of straight ahead jazz.  Then get the “Blackmagic” album, a wonderful exploration of Neo-soul married with hip-hop and Jazz.  Wherever James’ eclectic style takes you, I guarantee you’ll not only enjoy the ride, but also be thankful for it.  Love!

Featured Song: Little Bird

Download Now: Desire, No Tellin’ (I Need You), Love Conversation, Code, For All We Know


If You Don’t Know… Carolyn Malachi

Carolyn Malachi If you don’t know Carolyn Malachi… it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to this, Grammy-nominated, independent singer-songwriter, dancer, spoken word artist and social philanthropist.

Carolyn’s voice will get your attention, her lyrics will pull you in and her musical accompaniment will make it impossible for you to leave.

That is exactly how it happened for me.  The first time I heard her song Organic Soul, I was literally stopped in my tracks.  I was hooked from the top of the first verse…

You are a dancer don’t move unless I’m there…

You choreograph in tune to my heartbeat

Slide over here, into that chair and

Play a melody blacker than asphalt

Your ass ought to call me…

In the morning

I thought, who in the world is this creative song writer and why is this the first time I’m hearing her?  Come to find out… she was a smart chick, thus the name of her first album, Revenge of the Smart Chicks II: Ambitious Gods.  After researching Carolyn Malachi, I was of course pleased to learn, that like me, she is a Washington, DC native – and her roots run deep.

Malachi’s Great-Grandfather is legendary Jazz pianist John Malachi.  Jazz fans know his name from his frequent work with Jazz greats like Sarah Vaughan, Pearl Bailey, Al Hibbler and Joe Williams.  I’ve mentioned before that my Mom grew up playing piano and organ in DC churches.  My Mother actually knew John Malachi who also played in Washington churches from time to time.  My Mom said, “He didn’t have to tell you he was a jazz artist; you could hear it in the genius of his playing.”

I would say the same applies to his Great Granddaughter, Carolyn.  She doesn’t have to tell you she is an amazing talent and a force to be reckoned with.  You can hear it in every note she sings and word she writes.  I’m such a fan!

Malachi’s Organic Soul is featured as the first song on my Believe mixtape.  I also featured Malachi’s Textual on my Something New (Spring 2011) mix.

Be sure to download her latest EP Lions, Fires & Squares and definitely get Revenge of the Smart Chicks II: Ambitious Gods.

Featured Song: Love on the Median

Download Now: Love on the Median, Organic Soul, Orion


If You Don’t Know… Gregory Porter

IllusionIf You Don’t Know Gregory Porter… then you need to get to know this dynamic, Grammy nominated, jazz singer and song writer.

This post is the newest addition to entitled, “If You Don’t Know…”  In these articles, I will hip you to artists I’ve discovered in hopes of influencing your next download.  I’ve been contemplating starting these posts for months and after hearing Gregory Porter, I couldn’t wait any longer.

Porter’s songs are like vivid theatrical presentations; that makes sense given his background in Broadway musical theater.  He sings with the confidence and presence of a classic 60’s soul vocalist.  I’m not just saying this because he sings the song 1960 What? with so much intensity that you would swear it was an actual song from the 60’s; I say this because his voice is wrapped in a kind of feeling and experience that I once feared lost to our generation.  As I listened to Porter’s Grammy nominated album, Water, I heard some hints of Kurt Elling and at times Donnie Hathaway.  While his influences may be familiar to most jazz lovers, Porter’s vocal styling is clearly original.

Porter’s 1960 What? is featured in my Something New (Fall/Winter 2011) mix. Water was first released in 2010, but Porter has just dropped a remix of the Water album.

If you want to check him out live, catch a show at Smoke on New York’s Upper West Side.  I hear it’s still possible to get a seat but believe me, it won’t be that way for long.

Featured Song: Illusion

DJ BeTray’s Suggested Downloads: 1960 What?, Illusion, Water